GoPro Hero4 Silver, road tested and reviewed, available from Harvey Norman, Dublin.
One of the earliest and most effective action camera’s on the market. Used by a wide variety of adventure sports athletes. We road tested it, spoke to elite water based athletes, and got a good sense of where it excels and where it might evolve in the future. With videos it has a good anti shake mechanism, and is quite intuitive to use.
It is designed for a right handed person, but not too tricky for the other 20%. You may not want it on the wide angle setting all the time (the default setting) because it makes you feel a little dizzy looking at them after a while. It is easy to change when it’s not in the waterproof casing, but the touch screen functionality doesn’t seem to work when it is enclosed. This would suggest that you can’t switch it when you are out on the water without opening the waterproof casing.
Switching between stills and video was a little tricky, and, (not the for the first time I’ve heard it’s been done) it was easiest to use your mouth to hold the GoPro while paddling. Relatively handy, but then you can hear your breathing rather than the sea around you.
GoPro cameras were a game changer when they were introduced and forced other companies to raise their game. There are many situations where you do not want to (and should not) attach your smart phone or DSLR to your surfboard / kayak / wind surfing rig. For this reason GoPro should be saluted. On their youtube channel there is some awesome skiing footage especially.
When it comes to water however there are probably some more improvements GoPro probably need to make if they want to become the equipment of choice for the water based action community. We spoke to elite windsurfers, kayakers and surfers on their experiences with GoPro – who really appreciate it, but have experienced areas where it could bring back the killer shot more effectively.
+ I normally put down my wetsuit and take it out when I need, or stuff in my mouth, or use a massive selfie stick.
+ The large field of view makes action on the water seem smaller and less dramatic. You really have to be up close to capture anything.
+ I find the mounts a bit average. They don’t always stick either, and you would be nervous about sticking it on to the end of the board / boat, and it sliding off into the middle of the ocean while you are mid action.
+ The camera doesn’t handle ‘contrasty’ scenes very well which means going from light to dark and back again makes its exposure go nuts. This is a bit tricky seeing as that describes caves perfectly 🙂
+ The pictures can tend to often be the same. I just put it on time lapse and point it where I want, half of them are always blurry or with water on the lens, so I just take a lot and use the best ones!
+ The very bad audio quality when held. We had to resort to subtitles for a lot of the GoPro footage as clean audio is not it’s strong point.
+ It is not 100% suited for the water. Even though it’s waterproof, it’s hard to operate while kayaking and hard to stop water drops from obscuring a lot of your lens.
This is a good piece of equipment and has enabled the creation of some amazing footage, it will be interesting to see what else gets created on it on the future.
And here’s one more, because it’s Christmas and it’s awesome …